HUNTER vignerons are hoping their wines prove an increasingly attractive alternative to Italian and French varieties for the British as the United Kingdom prepares to leave the European Union.
Australia and the UK have signed a new bilateral wine agreement and a new mutual recognition agreement, which will help ensure the continued flow of trade post-Brexit.
Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment Simon Birmingham said the agreements would ensure arrangements already in place between Australia and the EU for wine and other exports continued to apply for the UK post-Brexit.
“This will mean Australian exporters can continue to benefit from existing arrangements for mutual recognition as they do currently, even if the UK leaves the EU without an agreement,” Mr Birmingham said.
“These agreements provide assurances to Australian exporters that they will be able to get their goods into the UK post-Brexit… without additional trade barriers or regulations.
“On top of these, we’re committed to securing a comprehensive free trade agreement with the UK.”
The UK and EU have not yet reached a deal on post-Brexit trade.
The Wine Agreement replicates an agreement already in place with the EU, meaning the UK will accept Australian labelling standards and certification standards and winemaking practices.
The UK is Australia’s top wine export market by volume.
Hunter Valley Wine and Tourism Association’s Andrew Margan welcomed the news, saying the Hunter Valley was the second-best-known Australian wine growing region in the UK, after the Barossa.
“We all saw it as a potentially positive thing for the industry in terms of the UK maybe not getting wine as cheaply out of the the EU as they used to and Australia having more favourable terms of trade,” he said.
“The EU has been heavily subsidised and we’re not. We pay $34 an hour to hand pick grapes – we’d have to be the most expensive labour market in the world.”
Brian McGuigan said the agreement was “wonderful”.
He said Australia could be “the beneficiaries of the angst that’s developed as part of the Brexit breakdown”.